FIRST responses to the national church survey, launched last week, suggest a divergence between clergy and laity about church closures.
By Wednesday, more than 1500 people had completed the survey, although many more are needed for a credible sample. Initial responses suggest that more than half those involved in ministry agree with church closures, compared with fewer than half those receiving ministry. About one fifth of respondents so far think that church buildings will become unviable, or that key lay people may step down and not be replaced.
More than one third of respondents say that they are more exhausted, anxious, stressed, fatigued, or frustrated since the pandemic began. Yet more than 40 per cent feel more creative, more prayerful, more thankful, or closer to God. More than half feel more neighbourly, but more than 40 per cent feel further from church or further from others.
Views might well shift during the period when people are filling in the questionnaire, but, of the first respondents, about one fifth believe that the Government did well when the crisis first emerged, and one third believe that it has led the nation well during the lockdown.
The survey’s authors, the Revd Professors Andrew Village and Leslie Francis, have emphasised this week that they need a much bigger sample to allow the study of regional variations or differences between groups in churches.
Please complete the survey if you have not already done so, and pass the link on to as many people as possible. A few people have experienced glitches. Most can be resolved by typing the url — tinyurl.com/ycsq9fy2 — directly into the browser. Also, the space bar does not operate in the final text box. The authors write: “Just carry on typing and we will sort out the words later. After all, the original New Testament manuscripts were written like that.”